Victoria Azarenka vs Kateryna Bondarenko WTA San Jose tennis preview, predictions and tips: Azarenka battles fellow mother Bondarenko in San Jose opener

Andrew Hendrie in WTA 29 Jul 2018
  • Victoria Azarenka vs Kateryna Bondarenko is live from San Jose at 7.00pm local time on Monday (3.00am BST, Tuesday)
  • Azarenka has won all four of their previous meetings - although they haven't played since 2010
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from San Jose at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)
Victoria Azarenka

Former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka launches her Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic campaign in San Jose on Monday night against fellow mother Kateryna Bondarenko.

(geo restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)

Unseeded and targeting just her fourth win since the Miami Open, two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka begins her Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic title quest on Monday night against Ukrainian veteran Kateryna Bondarenko. Azarenka, who was a champion at this tournament when it was known as the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford in 2010, has lost a bit of momentum over the last few months as she failed to win back-to-back matches on clay and grass in Europe - can she recapture her best tennis on North American hardcourts? She has a tricky opening round in San Jose as she faces Bondarenko, who is also a mother (giving birth to her first child Karin in 2013) and is also searching for a hardcourt resurgence after tough clay and grass swings. Azarenka and Bondarenko take to court at 7.00pm local time on Monday (3.00am BST, Tuesday).

Formerly known as the Bank of the West Classic and held in Stanford, the popular WTA Premier event has relocated to San Jose for 2018 and beyond as the tournament was rebranded as the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic. Staged alongside the Citi Open in Washington D.C. as the first stop in the U.S. Open Series, some of the biggest names in women’s tennis have converged in San Jose this week, with Azarenka being joined by the likes of 23-time major champion Serena Williams, her legendary sister Venus, two-time Grand Slam champion and top seed Garbine Muguruza and U.S. Open runner-up Madison Keys. Azarenka, who is still unseeded as the World No. 110, could face Muguruza in a blockbuster second round showdown, but first she must navigate her first round challenge.

After defeating the likes of Marion Bartoli, Samantha Stosur and Maria Sharapova to win this title when it was played in Stanford in 2010, Azarenka will be hoping to recapture some of that title-winning form this week in San Jose. Giving birth to her first child Leo at the end of 2016, Azarenka returned to competition in June of 2017 on the grass of the Mallorca Open and soon after made the fourth round of Wimbledon, but the two-time Australian Open champion and former World No. 1 didn’t play again for the rest of the season due to a split with her partner, which ultimately led to a messy custody battle that effectively meant that she couldn’t leave California with her son. Unwilling to travel the world competing without Leo, Azarenka’s career remained in limbo into the start of 2018 as she was forced to give up wildcards into the ASB Classic in Auckland and the Australian Open, but some sort of agreement was reached in March - and that has allowed her to resume travelling the tour alongside her son.

Azarenka lost to Sloane Stephens in the second round of Indian Wells but reminded everyone of just how good she is at the Premier Mandatory Miami Open, taking out the likes of Madison Keys, Anastasija Sevastova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Karolina Pliskova to make the semi-finals, where she was ultimately eliminated by Stephens again. It appeared as if Azarenka was on an upward trajectory and that she would be back into the top 100 sooner rather than later, but fast forward another few months since Miami and she is still languishing at No. 110 after winning just three matches across the clay and grass seasons, suffering a first round loss at the French Open to Katerina Siniakova and a second round defeat at Wimbledon to Pliskova.


Determined to bounce back to winning ways in San Jose, can Azarenka claim just her fourth victory since Miami and set up a mouth-watering clash with Muguruza?

She will have to overcome Kateryna Bondarenko to do so. Bondarenko experienced the bulk of her on-court highlights all the way back in 2008 and 2009, winning the Australian Open doubles title in 2008 and winning her first WTA singles title on the grass of Birmingham in 2009 - the same season she made her one and only Grand Slam quarter-final to date at the U.S. Open, while she also secured three of her eight top 10 wins in 2009, including triumphs over No. 3 Venus Williams and No. 4 Elena Dementieva.

Bondarenko hit her career-high ranking of No. 29 shortly after advancing to the U.S. Open quarter-finals, and although she was fairly consistent for the next few years, the Ukrainian failed to win another title or improve on her Grand Slam results. Bondarenko would miss the entire 2013 season (and even ended up announcing her retirement) after giving birth to her first child at the end of 2012, but she returned in 2014 as she slowly built her ranking back up via the ITF circuit. Bondarenko was back inside the top 100 by the end of 2015, while she made the third round of the Australian Open and U.S. Open in 2016 as she finished that year at No. 72.

The 31-year-old won her second WTA title on the hardcourts of Tashkent in 2017, but despite her first triumph at tour-level since 2009, Bondarenko would fall to No. 93 by season’s end. Bondarenko enjoyed a decent start to 2018, qualifying for the Brisbane International and defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on her way to another third round at the Australian Open, while she also made the final of the Indian Wells $125k event. However, Bondarenko has struggled on tour since, winning just two tour-level matches since.

The pair haven’t clashed since becoming mothers - and haven’t faced off altogether since 2010, but it was Azarenka who dominated the match-up, winning all four of their previous hardcourt meetings without dropping more than two games in a set. It doesn’t get much more emphatic than that, but obviously a lot has changed for both in 2018. Nevertheless, Azarenka has been back on court for quite a while now and she plays her best tennis on hardcourts. It might not be as straightforward as her previous wins over Bondarenko, but Azarenka should once again prevail and move into the second round.


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Victoria Azarenka vs Kateryna Bondarenko WTA San Jose tennis preview, predictions and tips: Azarenka battles fellow mother Bondarenko in San Jose opener

Former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka launches her Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic campaign in San Jose on Monday night against fellow mother Kateryna Bondarenko.

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